Sunday, January 22, 2006

First time for everything

Today was a day of firsts for me: First visit to Andorra, first time skiing in Europe, first time skiing with someone in a purple jumpsuit during the 21st century, and first broken ski.

Where to begin? At the beginning.... which was at 5:15 this morning when my alarm went off. I rolled out of bed and felt all of last night's cheese like a rock in my stomach and knew immediately it would be an interesting day. Showered, got ready to go, and got the call from Marc that he was outside. My place was the last stop, so Pablo Royo and Huy were already in the car, and off we went. It was pitch black out.

I think I fell asleep within 5 minutes and when I woke up a while later, I realized we were somewhere in France. Pablo and Huy were also asleep and Marc was attempting to ask a French sanitation guy for directions in Catalan. It didn't work so well, but another hour later we had arrived. We crossed the border of Andorra a few times for good measure (Marc seemed to have an affinity for a particular roundabout) which worried me because I thought I might be stopped for smuggling too much Swiss cheese into the country. After having breakfast and renting skis, we headed to the resort and got ready:

Huy, the king of the mountain:

Pablo Royo, in his very fashion-forward, simultaneously retro, 80s jumpsuit:

Marc gets dressed:

Singing the Barcelona Football Club song, just for good measure:

The four of us skiied and boarded together for a while and then caught up with a huge group of IESE-ers who had arrived yesterday. Only eight of us did the day trip and another group of 20 or so went for the whole weekend. We had coffee and took photos (I didn't bring my camera on the slopes, which turned out to be a good thing) and then a big group of us skiiers headed off together. The weather was sunny and warm, so it was a beautiful day, but there hadn't been any new snow in two weeks, so the conditions were very icy and fast. My bindings were also too loose, which I realized on the lift around 1pm. They were set for a flyweight and I'm at least a super featherweight. Particularly when loaded down with fromage.

And on that very run, as we were bombing down the mountain, I was cut off by another skiier just before hitting a nice flat area. I swerved to avoid him and in so doing took myself out. I landed on my back and lost my hat and goggles, both skis and poles, but fortunately not my sense of humor because it turned out to be very necessary. I slid downhill, headfirst, on my back for a good 200 meters and actually caught up with the skiier who cut me off. I yelled out, "Sorry! Are you ok?" and he just gave me a dirty look. I suppose I could've shouted out in French instead, but strangely enough, the vocabulary just didn't come to me as I was skidding down the hill.

Nora caught up to me with one ski, Nana with my hat and goggles, and I think Alvaro brought my poles. The second ski was nowhere to be found. After several minutes of searching, somone on a lift about 200 meters away shouted in French that the ski was below them, another 200 or so meters back. Marc skiied down to get it and climbed back up the mountain while I skiied partway down on one ski. I tried to put the ski on and realized the binding was destroyed and, as a result, the brake, which is what allowed my ski to carve downhill by itself at a ridiculous speed. What a liability. Good thing I bought that insurance for 3 euros!

So Marc and I headed up the lift and the skis followed. We were on the lift that went right over the ski's path, so we were able to see all the magnificent turns it did, including one where it would've landed in an icy water hole but instead swerved around it and continued on. What an amazing ski. I should've kept it. Instead we rode the lift down the other side of the mountain and traded in the busted Rossignols for a pair of Dynastars. I asked the guy to adjust the bindings better on the next pair.

While we were at the bottom, Marc and I decided to have a bite to eat for lunch. I orded a ham and cheese panini, which inexplicably took an hour. When it finally arrived it was only a cheese panini ... another meal of melted cheese with bread! I couldn't handle it and fortunately enough French came back to me right then to convince the waiter that I really shouldn't have to pay for it, and he agreed. Even our drinks were free. Cha-ching!

We rejoined the rest of the group for a few more runs and then called it a day. On the way back home, Marc, Pablo, Huy and I discussed the nature of our work teams and of course all our new professors and classes. We laughed so much during the ride each way that it's no wonder my stomach was hurting. A cheese brick in your belly and laughing till your face hurts aren't always the best combination, but it was worth it. All in all, it was a fantastic day spent with great friends.

With Huy, Nora, and Marc:

Huy, me, Alexandre, Alvaro, Nora, Marc, and Pablo Royo:

Now it's late and I'm tired. Tomorrow it's back to cases and, if I can get up early enough and I'm not too sore from the last three days of soccer, rugby, skiing, and back-sledding, maybe I'll go for a bike ride.


marcusrodri the lost driver said...

Well, very good story for only one day of ski. It was really a good day of ski. For those who are reading this blog I just want to confirm the facts stated by Noelle here, especially the strange ride her ski did by itself. As an authentic supranatural phenomenon, that rossignol did a couple of nice jumps and cruising down the slope before finishing its ride doing slalom between the water. You probably don't believe that, but it's true. I saw it, like those strange people who see UFOs in the middle of nowhere and nobody believes them. Well I didn't see the ski going down but...I believe in that alive rossignol!!!

Anonymous said...

Wow! Can I option the rights to that story? That's a great flick idea! And the dude in the jump suit.......awesome!